Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, is a popular baking ingredient. It gives foods like bread, cakes, muffins, and cookies a light, fluffy texture.
That’s because it has leavening properties, meaning that it reacts with an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, and causes the dough to rise by producing carbon dioxide.
Still, baking soda has a variety of household uses aside from cooking.
Here are 22 health benefits and uses of baking soda.
1–16. Household uses
Baking soda is a handy all-purpose item due to its wide variety of uses, from cleaning countertops to supporting oral care. Here’s a comprehensive list of household uses.
Mouthwash is a great addition to your oral hygiene routine, as it reaches the corners of your mouth and crevices of your teeth, gums, and tongue that you might miss during brushing.
Many people use baking soda as a replacement for mouthwash. Some studies show that it may help freshen your breath and even exert antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
While one study found that baking soda mouthwash didn’t significantly lower oral bacteria levels, it increased the pH levels of saliva, which is important for inhibiting bacterial growth.
To make your own baking soda mouthwash, add 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) of baking soda to half a glass (120 mL) of warm water, then swish as usual.
2. Teeth whitener
Baking soda is a popular home remedy for whitening teeth.
Many studies have found that toothpaste containing baking soda is better for whitening teeth and removing plaque than toothpaste without baking soda.
This is likely because baking soda has mild abrasive properties that can break the bonds of molecules that stain your teeth. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which may help fight harmful bacteria.
Surprisingly, human sweat is odorless.
Sweat only gains odor after it’s broken down by bacteria in your armpits. These bacteria convert your sweat into acidic waste products, which give sweat its smell.
Baking soda is often used as a natural deodorant to eliminate sweat’s smell by making its odors less acidic, though there’s limited research on whether this strategy works.
Try patting baking soda onto your armpits or mixing it with a bit of coconut oil, shea butter, or cornstarch to create homemade deodorant.
4. Fridge odor neutralizer
Have you ever opened your fridge and come across a surprisingly foul odor?
Chances are that some foods in your fridge have overstayed their welcome and started spoiling. This smell may stick around long after you empty and clean your fridge.
Baking soda may help freshen a smelly fridge by neutralizing bad odors. Interestingly, it eliminates odor particles rather than just masking their smell.
To try this trick, fill a cup with baking soda and place it in the back of your fridge.
5. Air freshener
Not all commercial air fresheners eliminate bad odors. Instead, some simply release fragrance molecules that mask other smells.
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In addition, fewer than 10% of air fresheners provide an ingredient list. This is problematic if you’re sensitive to chemicals that may be found in air fresheners.
Baking soda is a safe alternative to commercial air fresheners, as it’s free of industrial chemicals and neutralizes odor particles.
To create air freshener with baking soda, you need:
- a small jar
- 1/3 cup (74 grams) of baking soda
- 10–15 drops of your favorite essential oils
- a piece of cloth or paper
- a string or ribbon
Add the baking soda and essential oils to the jar. Cover it with the cloth or paper, then secure it in place with the string and put it in your living room, bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. When the scent starts to fade, give the jar a shake.
6. Whitening agent for laundry
Baking soda is an inexpensive way to whiten and clean your laundry.
That’s because it’s an alkali — a soluble salt — that can help remove dirt and stains. According to older research, alkali-like baking soda works by interacting with acids in stains when dissolved in water.
To try it out, add 1/2 cup (110 grams) of baking soda to your regular amount of laundry detergent. It also helps soften the water, so you may need less detergent than usual.
7. Kitchen cleaner
The versatility of baking soda makes it a great kitchen cleaner. When mixed with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, it may also help control the growth of harmful microorganisms, including mold or bacteria.
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To use baking soda in your kitchen, make a paste by mixing baking soda with an equal amount of lemon juice and a bit of water. Apply the paste to the desired surface with a sponge or cloth and scrub thoroughly.
Here are a few kitchen appliances, items, and surfaces that you can clean with baking soda:
- stained coffee cups
- stained marble
- grease stains
- kitchen tiles
- clogged drains
- tarnished silver
8. Garbage odor eliminator
Full trash bags often have a putrid odor because they contain decaying waste. If it’s particularly foul, this smell can spread to your kitchen and other areas of your home.
Fortunately, baking soda can help eliminate garbage smells by neutralizing acidic odor molecules.
Research notes that spreading baking soda at the bottom of waste bins may reduce garbage odor by 70%.
9. Carpet stain remover
A combination of baking soda and vinegar can remove the most stubborn carpet stains.
Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a compound called carbonic acid, which is a common ingredient in cleaning products. This reaction creates a lot of fizzing, which may help break down tough stains.
Here’s how you can eliminate carpet stains with just baking soda and vinegar:
- Cover the carpet stain with a thin layer of baking soda.
- Fill an empty spray bottle with a 1-to-1 mixture of vinegar and water and spray it over the stained area.
- Wait up to 1 hour or until the surface dries.
- Scrub the baking soda loose with a brush and vacuum the residue.
- The stain should now be completely removed. If there’s some baking soda residue left on the carpet, wipe it up with a damp towel.
10. Multipurpose bathroom cleaner
Like kitchens, bathrooms can be difficult to clean. They have a variety of surfaces that you use frequently and thus need to clean often.
While numerous commercial bathroom cleaners exist, many people prefer more natural, cost-effective cleaning options. Baking soda comes in handy because it whitens and disinfects many bathroom surfaces, though it’s less effective than commercial cleaners.
Here are a few surfaces you can clean with baking soda:
- bathroom tiles
- bathroom sinks
Make a paste using baking soda and a bit of water. Using a sponge or a cloth, rub the mixture thoroughly onto the surface you wish to clean, then wipe down the surface 15–20 minutes later with a damp cloth.
11. Pesticide remover for fruit and veggies
Many people are concerned about pesticide residue on foods. Pesticides are used to protect crops from insects, germs, rodents, and weeds, but many have harmful effects on human health.
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Peeling fruit is the best way to remove pesticides. However, it also means you don’t get the important nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, found in the skins of many fruits.
Interestingly, recent research indicates that a baking soda wash is the most effective way to remove pesticides from fruits and veggies without peeling them.
One study found that soaking apples in a solution of baking soda and water for 12–15 minutes removed nearly all of the pesticide residue.
Keep in mind that this method doesn’t remove pesticides that have penetrated the fruit’s or veggie’s skin. Plus, more research is needed to see whether this works for other types of produce.
12. Silverware polisher
Baking soda is a handy alternative to commercial silver polishers. You’ll just need a few extra ingredients:
- an aluminum baking pan or a baking dish lined with aluminum foil
- 1 cup (240 mL) of boiling water
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of baking soda
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) of white vinegar
Add the baking soda to the aluminum baking pan and slowly pour in the vinegar. Next, pour in the boiling water, then place the silver in the baking pan.
The tarnish should begin to disappear almost immediately. You can remove most silverware from the pan within 30 seconds, but heavily tarnished silverware may need to sit in the mixture for up to 1 minute.
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In this mixture, silver undergoes a chemical reaction with the aluminum pan and baking soda. It transfers the tarnish from the silverware onto the aluminum pan and may create pale, yellow residue at the bottom of the pan.
13. Scorched pot cleaner
It’s easy to inadvertently scorch the bottom of a pot while cooking.
These can be a nightmare to clean, but you can save a scorched pot easily with baking soda and water.
Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the bottom of the pot, and add enough water to cover the burnt areas. Bring the mixture to a boil and empty the pan as usual.
If stains or burnt food particles remain, grab a scouring pad, add a small amount of washing liquid, and gently remove them.
14. Oil and grease fire extinguisher
Interestingly, some fire extinguishers contain baking soda.
These types, which are known as dry chemical fire extinguishers, are used to extinguish oil, grease, and electrical fires. Baking soda reacts with the heat to produce carbon dioxide, which smothers the fire.
As such, you can use baking soda to extinguish small oil and grease fires.
However, don’t expect baking soda to extinguish larger house fires. These fires draw in more oxygen and easily neutralize the effects of baking soda.
15. Homemade weed killer
Weeds often have deep roots, making them hard to eradicate without using chemical weed killers.
Notably, baking soda makes a cheaper, safer alternative. That’s because baking soda is high in sodium, which creates a harsh environment for weeds.
Sprinkle a few handfuls of baking soda over weeds in areas like the cracks of your sidewalk or driveway. However, avoid using baking soda to kill weeds in your flowerbeds and gardens, as it may harm your other plants as well.
16. Shoe deodorizer
Baking soda is a great remedy for freshening up smelly shoes. That’s because it may counteract foul-smelling odors.
Pour 2 tablespoons (9 grams) of baking soda into 2 cheesecloths or thin pieces of fabric. Secure the cloths with a rubber band or string and place one in each shoe.
Remove the baking soda bags when you want to wear your shoes.
17–22. Health benefits
In addition to the many households uses listed above, baking soda may offer several health benefits.
17. Baking soda may help treat heartburn
Heartburn, also called acid reflux, is a painful, burning sensation in the upper region of your stomach that can spread into your throat.
It’s caused when acid flows out of your stomach and up into your esophagus, which is the tube that connects your stomach to your mouth.
Although acid reflux has many causes, it often occurs after you eat large meals, drink carbonated beverages, or eat greasy or spicy foods.
Baking soda can help treat heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid. To try it, dissolve 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of baking soda in a glass of cold water and drink the mixture slowly.
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However, there are downsides to this treatment to keep in mind:
- There’s some debate as to whether everyone with heartburn symptoms has high levels of stomach acid.
- Baking soda is very high in sodium, with 630 mg per 1/2 teaspoon (2.3 grams), which is important to be aware of if you have to limit your sodium intake.
- Continued use may lead to metabolic alkalosis — a condition in which your blood becomes overly alkaline — and heart problems.
18. Baking soda may soothe canker sores
Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that can form inside your mouth. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don’t form on your lips and aren’t contagious.
Though more evidence is needed, some older studies suggest that baking soda mouthwash soothes pain caused by canker sores.
You can make baking soda mouthwash using the recipe in the previous chapter. Rinse your mouth with this mixture once a day until the canker sore heals.
19. Baking soda may improve exercise performance
Baking soda is a popular supplement among athletes, who also call it sodium bicarbonate.
Some studies show that baking soda helps you perform longer at your peak, especially during anaerobic exercises or high-intensity training and sprinting.
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During high-intensity exercise, your muscle cells start producing lactic acid, which is responsible for the burning feeling you get while working out. Lactic acid also lowers the pH inside of your cells, potentially causing your muscles to tire.
Baking soda may help delay fatigue due to its high pH, letting you perform at max intensity for longer.
For example, one study found that cyclists who took baking soda exercised for an average of 4.5 minutes longer than those who didn’t take baking soda.
According to one review, this supplement may be effective when used in doses around 0.13 grams per pound (0.3 grams per kg) of body weight.
Another study recommends a dose of 135 mg of baking soda per pound of body weight (297 mg per kg) 1–2 hours before exercising.
20. Baking soda may relieve itchy skin and sunburns
A baking soda bath is often recommended to soothe itchy skin after bug bites or bee stings.
Additionally, baking soda may help soothe skin that’s itching from sunburns. Some people claim that it’s more effective when combined with other ingredients like cornstarch and oatmeal.
To make a baking soda bath, add 1–2 cups (220–440 grams) of baking soda to a lukewarm bath. Make sure the affected area is soaked thoroughly.
For specific areas, create a paste with baking soda and a bit of water, then apply a thick layer to the affected area.
21. Baking soda may slow the progression of chronic kidney disease
People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) slowly lose their kidney function.
Your kidneys are vital because they help remove excess waste and water from your blood while balancing important minerals like potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Although more research is needed, some studies suggest that taking sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) supplements improves kidney function and helps slow the progression of CKD.
Still, it’s best to talk with your doctor before ingesting baking soda if you have kidney problems.
22. Baking soda may improve certain cancer treatments
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
It’s often treated with chemotherapy, which is a chemical cocktail that slows or stops the growth of cancer cells, which usually grow and divide at a rapid rate.
Some research shows that baking soda may help chemotherapy medicines work more effectively by making the environment for tumors less acidic.
However, because the current evidence is limited to animal and test-tube studies, human research is needed. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, consult your doctor before complementing your chemotherapy treatment with baking soda.
Baking soda is a versatile ingredient whose uses extend far beyond cooking.
This household staple shines when it comes to neutralizing odors and cleaning, as it helps remove tough stains, eliminate foul odors, and clean difficult areas like the oven, microwave, and tile grout.
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In addition, baking soda has a variety of health benefits. For example, it may alleviate heartburn, boost exercise performance, and even whiten your teeth.
What’s more, baking soda is inexpensive and widely available. It never hurts to have a container on hand.
Storing baking soda properly after use is crucial for maximizing its shelf life. Be sure to transfer it to an airtight container, seal it properly, and store it in a cool, dry place.